Listen to my Short Story "The Forest Trail"

Friday, March 27, 2009

Favorite Quotes From Favorite Authors

1."...said uncle Pumblechook, a large hard-breathing middle-aged slow man, with a mouth like a fish, dull staring eyes, and sandy hair standing upright on his head, so that he looked as if he had just been all but choked, and had that moment come to."

2."...with a bowl of battered small coins before her, as much defaced and beaten out of their original impress as the small coinage of humanity from whose ragged pockets they had come."

Charles Dickens - 1. Great Expectations 2. A Tale of Two Cities

"Valley View Cemetery, that gray-and-green island of tombs and trees and flowered paths a restful, leafy, whispering oasis lying like a cool piece of cloud shade on the luminous wheat plains north of town."

"Hickock's uneven eyes turned towards the visiting room; his face, puffy, pallid as a funeral lily, gleamed in the weak winter sunshine filtering through the bar-shrouded glass."

Truman Capote - In Cold Blood

"We felt meditative, and fit for nothing but placid staring. The day was ending in a serenity of still and exquisite brilliance. The water shone pacifically; the sky, without a speck, was a benign immensity of unstained light; the very mist on the Essex marshes was like a gauzy and radiant fabric, hung from the wooded rises inland, and draping the low shores in diaphanous folds."

Joseph Conrad - The Heart of Darkness

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Book Review: 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea | by Jules Verne

An Underwater Adventure I Won't Soon Forget (Spoiler Warning)

There were many things Jules Verne did well in this novel. Two of the things I personally enjoyed, were his characterizations, and his imagery. The way you see Captain Nemo through the eyes of Professor Aronnax gives such a great and ominous view of him. Respect, horror; and yet you sense that Professor Aronnax takes quiet a liking to Captain Nemo. While not sharing the captain's world view, he finds an admiration for Captain Nemo as a colleague in the science of the sea, and as a fellow admirer of fine art, which Nemo has in the Nautilus's museum. Ned Land, the Canadian was a great character to have in the story, because he was like the one normal dude. He keeps things relatable to the average reader like me, who doesn't know all about marine science, and the like. His goals are the same as what the reader's would be if in his shoes. There are a few great haunting images I took with me after finishing this book. The underwater funeral at the coral graveyard. It had such a solemn and somber mood, being underwater, how much more silent can you get? It reminded me of when one of your wingmen died on the SNES game Wing Commander, one of my favorite games of all time, you would see them hold a silent funeral, on the outside of the ship in space suits, sending off the coffin into space with a gun salute. Just the sheer lack of sound out it space, is just like being underwater in this book. I also really liked the environment of the saloon and library onboard Captain Nemo's ship, the Nautilus, and the description of Dr. Aronnax sneaking through it as Captain Nemo plays on his Organ. What an intense, yet quite scene. I also really liked a scene where these two are high above the city of Atlantis, looking down. There are many scenes of quiet wonder, where you can picture yourself in the narrative, taking it all in, such wonder around you that you have no words to speak. Moments where it seems time has slowed down, and you just know it's going to be a memory you take with you once you leave. You should listen to The Alchemy Index: Vol. II Water by Thrice while reading this book, they go very well together, it is like a perfect soundtrack to the novel. You should also read Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson while listening to this album, they share some themes, but 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea and the Thrice album have the same tone, and go so well together. They have much of the same feeling, somber. You can feel the quite wonder of the unending sea, and the massive world that lies beneath it. The ending of this book seemed like a really weak cop out to me, it was very disappointing, but somehow it didn't ruin the book for me as some bad endings have. It was an awesome exciting big build up, and then a huge cop out, but it didn't take away all the great things that happened in Act II of the book. I would read it again, even knowing the ending, just to go on that great journey under the sea one more time.

Book Review: Journey to the Centre of the Earth | by Jules Verne

A Great Adventure (Beware of Spoilers)

This tale of Axel, his uncle Lidenbrock, and the formidable rad Icelander and guide Hans, was quite entertaining. Their journey to retrace the trail of Arne Saknussemm to the depths of the earth was much fun. I really enjoyed the juxtaposition of Axel's more regular behavior and reasoning to that of his uncle's extreme feverish moods and utter determination to go on no matter what the circumstances. Hans, my favorite character, was a solid rock free of all emotion, silently saving the other's from certain death on multiple occasions. There were some great moments where I feared for the lives of the travelers, and others where I in no way grew jealous of the travels they endured. I really liked the part where they came to the sea, discovered the forest of overgrown mushrooms, and sailed on their raft. A good read, and easier than Verne's 20,000 Leagues under the sea. I found the plot clever, when coming up with what to do while traveling underground through a tunnel, Jules Verne is proved is this volume to have a bright imagination.

Book Review: A Christmas Carol
by Charles Dickens

The Classic Christmas Story

This novella is a great read! I love Charles Dickens, and I would love for everyone to read his books, but I realize that many are a bit long and perhaps intimidating. For those of you who would like to see what Dickens is like, I highly recommend this book. It's a novella, or short novel, like Hemmingway's The Old Man and The Sea. Reading a novella is great because you can get into the story, enjoy it, and also have that great feeling of accomplishment in finishing a book in a short amount of time. For me, it was especially fun reading this because I started it on Christmas Eve, which is when the book starts. It is lovely to see the character of Scrooge go through a change of heart. The story is a very pleasant read, and full of great imagery. You can really see the dreary and cheerful scenery, as it is described so well with mood and tone. The pacing in this book is quite good. There is just enough history told to let you know of Scrooge's near past and associations with his late partner Marley without slowing the story down in exposition. I especially like it when Dickens describes all of the wonderful food with such fervor. It makes you want to jump into the pages and grab each and every kind of food he describes, and try it out until your stomach would burst and your taste buds be overloaded. I highly recommend reading this book around Christmas time, and if you've never read Dickens before; it's really a great story and is highly deserving of the title Classic.

Wuthering Heights is a well written dreadful story (beware of spoilers) Book Review

This book was well written, but hard to read because the characters are so awful, just deplorable human beings. However, as I read on I found a few characters to keep me on my quest of giving it's old prose a second chance. These were Nellie Dean of coarse, Catherine Linton, and Hareton Earnshaw. I hated this book in high school, but I must say, it's much better than I remember. The character's moral temperment made me loathe them, and reading about them. Their extreme emotion and passion, like Catherine's last embrace with Heathcliff was pretty cool, but at the same time, Catherine's love couldn't have been that great for Heathcliff if she married another for social status. If I met these people I would go on a diatribe about their moral character, but hey, if this was something new and different from other literature back when Emily Bronte wrote this, and she was trying to do something different with these characters than what was normal, then that is something to be commended. It all came together for me a little while after Linton Heathcliff's death and Young Catherine's livelyhood overtook her grief. I must say, she's a pretty tough cookie, though she can be a brat, she had enough in her to make me care enough to find out what would happen to her. I suppose I hated Heathcliff enough too, to want to see how his life would end and in what manner, though if Nellie, Catherine, and Hareton hadn't brightened the pages a bit, I wouldn't have cared enough to keep turning them till the denouement. All in all I give this dreadful volume a 4 because it was so well written, and though the story was rough because it's characters were so awfully wretched, a few beat through the dim to leave you at peace in stead of disgust as the story ended with a bit of joy; and though I didn't want to admit it to myself, this old Gothic tale became a page turner for me near the end, and I love page turners! May you live in peace young Catherine and Hareton, forgetting all of your families dark history!